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Nonsuicidal Self-Injury

By

The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Feb 2021| Content last modified Feb 2021
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What is nonsuicidal self-injury?

Nonsuicidal self-injury is hurting yourself on purpose, without trying to kill yourself. For example, if you cut your skin to hurt but not to kill yourself, that is called a nonsuicidal self-injury—it's not attempted suicide. The most common examples of nonsuicidal self-injury are:

  • Cutting or stabbing your skin with a sharp object (for example, knife, razor blade, needle)

  • Burning your skin (usually with a cigarette)

Nonsuicidal self-injury:

Nonsuicidal self-injuries should be taken seriously. People who injure themselves on purpose are likely to do it again, and may be more likely to attempt or commit suicide.

Why do people injure themselves on purpose?

The reason is not always clear, but self-injury may be a way that people try to:

  • Lower stressful or negative feelings

  • Punish themselves for something they think they did wrong

  • React to relationship problems

  • Get other people to help them

How do doctors treat nonsuicidal self-injury?

Doctors will ask about your injuries and what happened. They’ll take your actions seriously and try to figure out if you might try to kill yourself.

Doctors treat nonsuicidal self-injury with psychotherapy. Two types of psychotherapy used to treat nonsuicidal self-injury are:

  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)—in weekly and individual sessions over the course of a year, the therapist helps you learn how to manage stress

  • Emotion regulation group therapy—helps you become aware of and accept negative emotions

Medicines can help some people. If you have mental health disorders besides nonsuicidal self-injury, doctors will treat those.

It's important to have follow-up doctors’ appointments to make sure the self-injury has stopped.

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OTHER TOPICS IN THIS CHAPTER
Suicidal Behavior and Self-Injury
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